Walden Theatre’s Connecting Company of young actors has two shows opening next week that break down cultural boundaries among diverse groups–through theatre.
Please note that the time for the performance at the
Kentucky Center on April 5 has changed to 4:00 pm.
Teens from Louisville’s Walden Theatre Conservatory and from the area near the Eastern Kentucky town of Auxier wrap up a months-long collaboration next week with Connecting Kentucky, an original theatre production conceived, devised, and performed by both groups based on their individual and community experiences of growing up in different corners of the Bluegrass.
The Walden Theatre students working on Connecting Kentucky have devised another original production based on the voices of a very different set of peers. Connecting Cultures explores the interactions, voices, struggles, and dreams of an integrated class of students from Louisville’s Academy @ Shawnee school and the ESL Newcomer Academy. These students worked together to build trust in one another–and in their English language ability, for the Newcomer students–and break down barriers that limit cross-cultural understanding.
- April 3 at 7:00pm
Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, Ky.
- April 5 at 4:00pm
Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts (with Connecting Cultures)
The residency and immersion program leading to this performance, offered in partnership between Walden Theatre and Hand in Hand Ministries, brought Louisville and Eastern Kentucky young people together for face-to-face interaction and frequent correspondence that built relationships while fostering the creation of moving stories and scenes. In the process, students found ways to build community and understanding while exploring stereotypes and cultural expectations respectfully and honestly with one another.
“The Connecting Kentucky performance, as it’s taking shape, showcases a youth perspective on the state we all live in,” said Walden Theatre’s Julane Havens, co-developer of the program. “Its designed to be a celebration of who we are as a community and what we could become—and the back and forth between the desire for change and the value of tradition has already created an interesting dynamic.”
Walden Theatre’s Melinda Crecelius has worked with the Walden Theatre participants in rehearsal and traveled with Havens for two weekends with the Auxier students. “This project taught us all to appreciate differences and to understand what and who else is out there beyond our own little worlds. Differences aren’t such bad things when we understand and respect where someone is coming from.”
The culminating performances in Prestonsburg and Louisville will feature music by the bluegrass band Land of Lincoln—members of which grew up in the Auxier and Prestonsburg area.
- April 5 at 4:00pm
Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts (with Connecting Kentucky)
- April 11 at 7:30pm
Walden Theatre’s Nancy Niles Sexton Stage
Walden Theatre’s Connecting Company began in 2013 with an innovative collaboration among Outreach Education staff and two teachers at a local school. The students at the at-risk Academy @ Shawnee and the ESL students at the Newcomer Academy shared a campus but otherwise had little interaction. An in-class theatre residency and culminating Connecting Cultures performance challenged that.
In 2014, the Connecting Cultures residency went back to work with Shawnee and Newcomer to help a new class of students learn about one another and about the stereotypes and unfair generalizations that prevent understanding among them. The theatre exercises, personal narratives, and group work accomplished by this integrated class were then shared with Walden Theatre students who relied exclusively on this material to identify common themes, struggles, and achievements around which they crafted an original production.
With Connecting Cultures, the Walden Theatre ensemble gives voice to the talented, sometimes misunderstood, often overlooked, but ultimately optimistic voices of young people from Louisville and recent arrivals from around the world.
All Connecting performances are free and open to the public and will feature linked vignettes developed by young people based their insights about themselves and one another.
We hope you can join us for the special performance at the Bomhard Theatre at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts that features both performances by this extraordinary company.